The first time Pearl Huang tried on a VR headset at her local arcade it blew her mind.

“It was life-changing. I felt like I was in a completely different world. That’s how I became really interested in technology,” she recalls.

When it came to deciding what she wanted to study after high school, Pearl was heavily influenced by her love of technology and the environment she grew up in.

“Business was always in the picture. I learned about the many different avenues a degree in business offers through my family and friends who are also in business; having studied commerce and/or economics as well and some of them who are currently managing their own businesses.”

Studying at UNSW was the perfect intersection for Pearl’s passion for tech and her curiosity to learn more about the business world and how corporations are applying new technologies to their everyday operations.

Pearl is currently studying a Bachelor of Information Systems (Co-op) (Honours) at UNSW Business School and is a recipient of the prestigious UNSW Co-op Program scholarship, which provides industry training, professional development, networking and financial support for selected undergraduate students in Business, Engineering, and Science.

Today, Pearl is putting her learning into practice as a Trust & Risk Consultant Intern at leading business consultancy, PwC, even before she has graduated.

Keeping Australian businesses moving safely

While Pearl wanted to get involved in technology, she didn’t want to get too technical. Information Systems – using technology in business to improve efficiencies – offered the sweet spot she was looking for.

Receiving the Co-op Scholarship meant Pearl could get real-world experience while she was still studying. As part of the scholarship, Pearl will complete three internships relevant to her studies.

In 2023, her placement took her to News Corp Australia where she gained experience as a Quality Assurance Test Analyst and a Junior Product Manager.

In her current six-month internship at PwC, she’s been conducting technology audits and risk assessments. This helps organisations make sure their systems and technology run smoothly and safely.

“We conduct different tests and assess our clients’ technology systems and infrastructure. Then we look at any potential risks and suggest mitigation or improvement strategies – making sure systems are aligned with industry and regulatory standards. It’s been very interesting for me to dive into.”

For one client, Pearl’s team found that their systems didn’t completely align with their internal policies, which exposed the company to a higher level of risk. The team made recommendations for how to improve their systems and reduce their risk.

“I make sure that systems and technology are doing what they're intended to do. I’m also helping lower cybersecurity risks, making sure systems are safe.”

Pearl said “my next placement will be at AMP Limited, a financial services company. I’m super excited to work within their digital banking space and I’m looking forward to learning more about how technology is used in new industry sectors, having already learnt about the application of technology in the media and assurance spaces.”

The foundations for a successful career

Pearl says even though she’s only halfway through her degree, she can already apply so much of what she’s learned at UNSW to the real world of work.

“Before I had the internships, I couldn't really see how what I was learning would translate into practice. But now I've worked in the industry, I realise all the things I’m learning has provided me with a very good foundation for starting work,” Pearl explains.

From various frameworks and principles to specific skills, Pearl feels her degree has set her up for success.

“I had to learn SQL, a programming language tool, as part of my degree. At PwC, I had to translate SQL code for clients who don’t have that level of technical knowledge so they can see what’s happening in their business. Having that skill already under my belt was incredibly helpful otherwise, I would have had to learn it from scratch in a very high-pressured environment.”

For Pearl, applying her learning about the different ways hackers can get into a system through a compromised password has also been very useful for her internship.

“I could take this knowledge to PwC and help clients strengthen their password policies to help prevent them from falling victim to a cyberattack.”

Learning outside the lecture theatre

Pearl has also made the most of the opportunities UNSW Business School has to offer outside the classroom.

She was the Business Society’s Social Director, a peer mentoring program leader, and a Social and Publications sub-committee member.

While the initial appeal of these activities was around having fun and making friends, Pearl says they have also helped her grow personally and professionally.

“You wouldn't get a lot of these practical experiences in a classroom. Joining these societies is a great way to experience something that’s not part of your degree through a business lens.”

As the Social Director in 2023, Pearl got to organise many social events for her peers. This included UNSW Business School’s orientation camp – an outdoor camp in Douglas Park for nearly 400 first year Business School students and camp leaders.

“It taught me a lot in terms of event planning, stakeholder management and how to work with different vendors. It helped me develop a lot of the interpersonal skills, which are becoming high sought after and  important in the workplace.”

Diversity is good business

One thing that surprised Pearl about a career in business is the level of collaboration.

“I thought business will be super competitive. But there is a very strong emphasis on working in a team. And I could really see that in action in both of my internships. You get to work with people with different roles – from engineers and programmers to business analysts. But at the end of the day, you are working together to build a product or a service to help a client.”

This diversity of thought and experiences is why Pearl says it’s so important for more female-identifying students to explore a career in business.

“Diversity brings different perspectives. And it helps us be more innovative and make the way we operate better. Women who participate in business bring different ideas that drive progress and create more inclusive and balanced work environments,” Pearl explains.

She says working in the business sector holds a myriad of fantastic career opportunists for all female-identifying students,– whether you know what you want to do or are still undecided.

“Working and studying business is so diverse, anyone can find something they like within it. And the skills you learn will set you up to pursue any career, whether you have an entrepreneurial spirit, want a leadership role or if you want to create a positive social impact on your locally community.”

Want to explore your future in business?

Learn from inspiring students like Pearl at the UNSW Girls in Business Camp. The Camp is open to any year 10, 11 or 12 female-identifying high school students in New South Wales who have a genuine interest in studying Banking and Finance, Economics, Information Systems and Technology Management, Risk and Actuarial Studies at UNSW Business School.

Learn more about the UNSW Girls in Business Camp

Learn more about Information Systems and Technology Management at UNSW Business School

Find out more about the UNSW Business School